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Jeff Sentell/DawgNation
Grayson 5-star linebacker Owen Pappoe put up a historic Nike football rating score on Sunday in Charlotte, N.C.

5-star LB Owen Pappoe on his upcoming decision: ‘I do not have a leader’

Jeff Sentell

Want to attack every day with the latest Georgia football recruiting info? That’s what the Intel will bring at least five days a week. We’re talking to 5-star LB Owen Pappoe on this Sunday night. ‘Nuff said. 


CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Owen Pappoe had his prom Saturday night, but he said he got more sleep than any of his three Grayson teammates.

Pretty hard to imagine what he would do if he had a long night of rest. Pappoe set a Nike Opening regional record with his football rating of 147.12 at Rocky River High on Sunday morning.

He’s now making his commitment on May 1 instead of May 5, but you might have read that on the site already. 

Here’s what you might not have laid eyes on yet:

  • He has no leader between Auburn, UGA or any other school. “I really have an idea of who it is going to be,” Pappoe said. “But I am going to make sure that I visit two specific schools back to back. I am not going to say who they are, but I will make sure that I will visit them back-to-back and I will make my decision based off of them.”
  • If you trade in that sort of thing, he wore a UGA backpack and a UGA zip-up windbreaker on Sunday. He also competed with a pair of LSU gloves on.
  • While we are on the subject of LSU, he said that those SEC West Tigers are now his No. 3 team.
  • Owen Pappoe-UGA recruiting-Georgia recruiting-Georgia football recruiting
    Five-star LB Owen Pappoe very likely will be the first three-time invitee to the Nike Opening finals this summer. (Jeff Sentell/DawgNation)

    His visit plans do not include G-Day. He will be at Penn State on an official visit this weekend and then Texas the following weekend for an official. He will take two more officials in the fall.

  • Auburn and Georgia will not get official visits, but they will both likely receive another additional visit prior to his May 1 decision.
  • The 6-foot-1 Pappoe weighed in at 209 pounds. His testing numbers: 4.47 seconds in the 40-yard dash; 45 feet power ball toss; 4.0-second short shuttle; 40-inch vertical.
  • Pappoe said that UGA 5-star commits Nolan Smith and Jadon Hasewlood continue to “hammer” him about playing in Athens. He said they come at him harder than the UGA coaches do. The Bulldogs staff has more of a laid-back approach … well, until recently.
  • When he makes his decision on May 1, it will not shut down his recruiting. He will still likely take other visits.
  • He said he didn’t actually train specifically for any of the Opening events on Sunday. “No lie,” Pappoe said. “I didn’t train for this at all. I actually shocked myself doing this. It is a blessing.”

That about covers the stuff for those with the five seconds of attention span to spare regarding the decision from the nation’s No. 1 outside linebacker and the No. 7 overall prospect in the 247Sports composite rankings.

“I have said that Georgia is my top school,” Pappoe said. “They are. People say that Auburn is coming into the picture. (Pauses). I guess so.”

We will dive a little deeper into this decision from here on in.

Owen Pappoe: The decision in his own words

As stated earlier, he told DawgNation on Sunday that he currently has no public leader. That has changed over the last month. What happened there? How did Auburn catch the home state Bulldogs?

Owen Pappoe-UGA recruiting-Georgia recruiting-Georgia football recruiting
Owen Pappoe ranks as the nation’s No. 1 outside linebacker and the No. 7 overall prospect for 2019. (Jeff Sentell/DawgNation)

He said his three-day unofficial visit over the last month mattered. That’s because every time he had been to Auburn before, it had been for a game or a camp. The personal attention and extended 1-on-1 time from that trek really made an impression.

“I really do have interest in Auburn,” Pappoe said.

But he also wondered why the internet would run wild with Crystal Ball picks and speculation that he was now trending toward Auburn. He didn’t see where all the “he’s now going to Auburn” stuff came about.

Why choose Georgia?

“Just stay home and play with my brothers,” Pappoe said, noting that attention from Haselwood and Smith.

Why choose Auburn?

“Just to see how the recruiting class there goes,” Pappoe said. “Whenever I go, I want to play with some dogs, too.”

When he decides, he feels he will “be pretty solid with the school he picks” on May 1.

He also had a thought to help frame up those analyst Crystal Balls and rumors.

“I just look at it like this: If you don’t hear from the man then don’t believe it,” he said. “It is just rumors.”

This is a close decision, but he will not allow anyone to paint him as having a hard decision with this. That’s a mature statement. That’s because if anyone is prepared to weather a tough college decision, it is Pappoe.

Owen Pappoe-UGA recruiting-Georgia recruiting-Georgia football recruiting
Owen Pappoe set a new Nike Opening regional combine record with his 147.12 football rating. (Jeff Sentell/DawgNation)

He has been getting major college offers since before his freshman year. Pappoe has been heavily recruited since his freshman season. He also has a cadre of good mentors and coaches to lean on around Grayson High School.

There was a time when he was supposed to (air quotes are maybe necessary here) choose Clemson. Then Florida State. Then Georgia.

“You can’t make it hard on yourself,” Pappoe said. “A lot of people make it harder on themselves because they are listening to the fans. They build up a good relationship with the coach. Now they are listening to the coach and it’s, no, don’t go there now. You just can’t make it hard on yourself.”

How did the UGA coaches respond to the Auburn chatter?

Pappoe gave a very honest answer to how the Bulldogs responded to all the rumors about him trending to Auburn.

“I was like, ‘Coach just let the media be the media’ and I just told them if you don’t hear something coming from me then don’t listen to it,” Pappoe said.

Inside linebackers coach Glenn Schumann reached out. So did defensive coordinator Mel Tucker. Pappoe then noted that every program has graduate assistants and staffers that follow the Twitter grapevines.

“They were basically like, ‘We are hearing this, what is up?’ and just talk about it,” Pappoe said.

The 5-star LB did just that.

Owen Pappoe-UGA recruiting-Georgia recruiting-Georgia football recruiting
Owen Pappoe does not plan to take official visits to Auburn or Georgia. He will visit both schools prior to his decision. (Jeff Sentell/DawgNation)

“I was just like ‘Coach, this is the media and you know how it is going’ with me,” he said. “They didn’t really take it too seriously.”

What is the truest thing he can say right now about his decision?

“I’ve been getting offers since the eighth grade,” Pappoe said. “I’ve put a lot of thought into it and I believe whatever decision that I make is going to be the right one for me.”

We already discussed Pappoe’s wardrobe choices on Sunday. He also wore a mostly red-and-black tuxedo to his prom on Saturday night. Are there any conspiracy theories to sort through there?

“No comment,” he said.

What can the Bulldogs do to seal up his decision?

“They don’t have to do anything special,” Pappoe said. “[The way] how they have been recruiting me this far is really good.”

And Auburn?

“I just want to make sure I play with some dogs,” Pappoe said. “I want to see how their recruiting class goes.”

That’s an important point. Auburn is trending heavily with 4-star defensive back Jashawn Sheffield from South Georgia. His Grayson teammate Wanya Morris is down to Auburn and Tennessee.

There is the recent Auburn commitment Jakai Clark. Clark is another Grayson teammate.

That said, the Tigers have three commitments for 2019. Georgia has three 5-star commitments in that same cycle.

He said the Grayson school community all feels like he will choose the Bulldogs.

“Everybody thinks that I am going to go to Georgia,” he said. “I will just let everybody think what they want to think. They will see May 1.”

Miss any Intel? The DawgNation recruiting archive will get you up to speed just as fast as former Georgia All-American linebacker Roquan Smith found the ball after the snap.